I live and work downtown, but unfortunately on the south side of the downtown core. And the bulk of the city’s street food vendors are on the north side. Most of these vendors operate on weekdays during the lunch rush, and most close shop in the mid afternoon.
From where I work, that means by the time I march over, stand in line, place my lunch order, and receive my order, I have about 5 minutes before I have to rush back to the office. It’s just not practical.
But today, I had the day off and decided to take advantage of the opportunity to try Vij’s Railway, normally located on West Georgia in front of the Coast Capital savings building.
I arrived shortly after high noon and there was already a ten minute line up.
Vikram Vij was on hand today, greeting the hungry patrons and providing samples of the cuisine.
Today he was offering a taste of Cassava Fries.
I’ve sampled them before, when dining at this restaurant on West 11th Ave. There, it was only available as a sampler for diners that were waiting in line outside the restaurant. It was never on the menu, until this truck arrived. These are deep-fried to a light golden colour, and seasoned with salt and spices. It was warm and fluffy on the inside, but with a light crunch on the outside, very much like a good potato french fry. The “flesh” has a very slight sweet taste to it, which is probably a good thing (bitterness would indicate a higher level of natural toxins that occur in Cassava roots).
I understand the menu changes almost daily. Today offerings included Cassava fries with tamarind chutney, puffed rice and chickpea salad, curried chickpeas, Kalongi chicken curry, Lucknow lamb kebabs, and halibut in coconut masala curry.
I chose the Kalongi chicken curry, described as nutty peppery curry sauce.
The chicken is properly cooked (I’ve been to many Indian restaurants where the chicken was overcooked and dry), and curry sauce was rich and spicy, with a pronounced flavour of fennel. The coriander leaves on top added a peppery citrusy accent. The basmati rice was seasoned with spices and seeds as was the serving of naan. This naan was a little heavier/denser than I like, but tasted great, accented with spices, with a richness to the tongue (probably from cream or yogurt used in making it).
Overall, it’s a good curry dish, well executed and delicious. The portion is pretty modest though, but not out of line for the value/price point.
I want to try the lamb kebabs the next time I see this truck.
I revisited Vij’s Railway when the truck was at a farmers market. This time, I sampled
Samosas with salad. These are really nice samosas, warm with a lightly crispy fried pastry shell, and stuffed with curried spiced potatoes. The salad was crisp and fresh, and the dressing had an unexpected spicy kick.
Puffed rice and chickpea salad with mint mango chutney. This salad has a bright fresh taste from the mint and lime, with lots of crunch from the cashews and puffed rice. The peas are fresh, crisp and sweet. But I kept thinking that this needed more puffed rice, either that, or I ate it too slowly and the puffed rice present got wet and soggy.